According to management consultant firm MFI, over $10 billion has been spent on construction technology ventures in the last decade.

There’s a reason investors are banking on a technology upsurge in construction: the need for more efficiency in the industry has grown desperate, and contractors are starting to bite.

So, yes: all this talk about automation in construction is real, and not something you can tune out anymore if you want to grow and prosper—or even survive.

Processes that are time and resource intensive and subject to human error should be the first processes to be investigated for automation. – Alexandro Pando, CEO, Xyrupt

Do I really need to automate?

The short answer is, yes.

You’ve seen the figures about worker shortages in construction, and maybe you’ve felt the squeeze first-hand. Even if you have the most reliable workers filling out your ranks, you’re going to need younger workers sooner or later, especially if you want to grow and take on more projects. Younger workers expect the added efficiency and ease that can be accessed only with technology and automation.

Additionally, with construction contractors in such high demand, operational efficiency is also vital to keeping up with whatever workload you take on—which you’ll need to complete in a timely fashion to stay cash flow-positive. And if you can’t keep up, you’ll start to overspend and disappoint your clients, and ultimately your business may fail.

The “wow” factor

There are numerous exciting new tech advances that will certainly cause a stir among employees and new hires. Examples include self-driving equipment, exoskeletons and VR headsets.

The only problem with these flashy automation choices: they’re super-expensive, and their ideal uses haven’t been worked out yet. So while bringing them onto your site will undoubtedly cause excitement among workers initially, they might not bring the real strides in efficiency and savings that your company will have to make to move forward.

Smart versus ineffective automation

The key in automating is to start with the low-hanging fruit—i.e. a single process that will bring almost definite ROI—and then gradually move onto bigger processes that may not show direct monetary returns.

Find a manual process for which simple tools can be inserted to make that process quicker. -David Murray,

That’s where digital time and activity tracking comes in. Digital time tracking takes a key manual process that is time-consuming and/or error-prone and automates it, saving everyone time and shaving off the significant margin of error found in most construction companies’ payrolls.

Once you have brought in this guaranteed ROI, you can start looking to your second and third moves on the automation chess board to truly become a state-of-the-art business that good workers will flock to.